Court Hears Government Appeal from Human Rights Tribunal

TORONTO – June 28, 2007 –  Following a three-day hearing, the Divisional Court of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice has reserved its decision respecting the Attorney General of Ontario’s appeal from the decision of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario that the Coroners Act contravenes the OntarioHuman Rights Code.

The appeal was heard by a three-judge panel comprised of Justices John Jennings, Sidney Lederman and Katherine Swinton.  The Tribunal decision under appeal was rendered by retired Supreme Court of Canada judge the Honourable Peter CoryThe Tribunal had ruled in favour of complainants Renata Braithwaite, who lost her mother, and Robert Illingworth, who lost his brother, in fatal incidents that occurred in the course of psychiatric detention.  The Tribunal ordered that inquests be held into the deaths and that the government pay damages for mental anguish.  

The appellants were represented by Sara Blake (Crown Law Office (Civil Law)), Arif Virani (Crown Law Office (Constitutional Law)) and Michael Blaine (Office of the Chief Coroner).  The Human Rights Commission was represented by its Director of Legal Services Hart Schwartz and Sheena Scott. Renata Braithwaite was represented by Suzan FraserMarshall Swadron and Kelley Bryan of Swadron Associates and Lisa Romano, in-house counsel to the Psychiatric Patient Advocate Office (PPAO) represented the intervenors, Mental Health Legal Committee, Empowerment Council and the PPAO.  

.  To read the full text of the Tribunal’s reasons for decision please click here.